He Loves Me No Matter What

I LOVE HER

I walk into her bathroom and I spy some blush and lip gloss on the counter. It’s a new thing for us. It throws me back to my teen years, trying all the Wet ‘n Wild and Cover Girl, figuring out just the right shade against my pale skin, mousy brown hair and freckles. I smile when I think of those same freckles splayed across her nose and wonder if she realizes how beautiful I think they are.

I was scared of these days–this transition from little girl to woman. I dreaded them, closed my eyes and sighed when I thought of them. I think I thought some strange version of my little girl would emerge suddenly, one I wouldn’t recognize, or like. We’re only in the beginning; the wrestling has just begun. But, so far, I’m saying this stage is my favorite. She’s the same little girl and yet with so much more humor and understanding. We can look at each other and say things without a word. The years have taught us our own language.

And yet, at every stage I’ve said it’s my favorite. As it turns out, I love her no matter what.

Read more over at Jessica Hoover’s place today.

An Invitation to Increased Faith

Increased Faith

 

I tossed and turned in bed last night. With eyes closed and mind busy, I sent prayers up for the families of the Christians executed in Libya. I sent prayers for more Christians who are facing the same fate. I prayed not that the persecution would subside but that their faith be emboldened to stand for Christ. That a weak faith would not deny his name and give in to these murderers. Because you know what happens when people’s faith is strong enough to withstand persecution? People believe. Others are emboldened. I am emboldened.

I want a faith that is so strong that can withstand persecution. Not so I can have the reward that God says is ours if we are, but so that others will join me. American Christians, we need this kind of faith. If we think this type of persecution isn’t coming for us, we are naive.

And this is why I am now seeing the importance and the purpose of Feathers. Guys, if we can’t trust God to talk to our neighbor or start a new job, how in the world are we going to have enough faith to face a sword? (Asking myself too) We need to practice our faith in the little things so we can have the faith in the big things. We need to hear others’ stories about how God was faithful to them. We need the encouragement of other believers.

To have that kind of faith, we need a track record of God being faithful in our lives and it starts with us hearing God’s voice and obeying every. single. day. Every time we do that, we trust God more and then we can say without reservation, “Yes, the God I know through Jesus Christ is the one true God. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him.”

I believe God is inviting us on a journey to increased faith and it starts in the small. Won’t you join us every Tuesday on Feathers? Hear how God is faithful and know He can be the same for you.

 

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Matthew 5:10

But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Matthew 10:33

Easter 2015: Adoption, God’s Plans, and Our Identity

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My words have been mostly quiet here lately. I’ve sat down so many times to type out some words to you, but as I told someone recently, I feel as if God has frustrated my words. He has been whispering these past few months how he is doing something new. I don’t know if it’s so much of a circumstance or calling, but I feel newness deep inside. He is changing me. The words shared on Feathers are changing me. And it is today, on Easter when we are reminded of Jesus’s life, that I feel this new life the most.

He is indeed birthing something new in me. I am not sure I have the words for it yet, but it’s like a holy rumbling inside. I get the feeling it is new faith, a belief I’ve yet to experience. The more I walk in God’s path and let go more of my own, he replaces the empty spaces with Himself. Today doesn’t feel like a culmination of all his works, but perhaps a scenic pullover on this mountainous path.

I look back since last Easter and see that it isn’t just the deep in me that has changed, but our outside circumstances too. I sit here and write while I watch Jac0b play with the girls and Christ has never been more real to me. Do I need a Bible or an empty tomb to prove he is real? No, I have a little boy with blue eyes that tells me He’s real. It’s not to say I don’t love God’s word or believe in an empty tomb, but I just have this inkling that we can know that we know because of our experience with Him.

A third child was never in our plans. Our plans were for 2 kids, a dog and white picket fence. And then we started following his whispers, to be his hands and feet in this broken, broken world. We kept following the whispers until they were shouts. We couldn’t not adopt.

So we checked checkmarks and listened as friends told us we’d have a sandy haired boy. We doubted his call and waited and waited, and then, he was here. In the flesh. God’s call was no longer something written on paper or only of the soul, he was a little boy that moved in and took our last name. It is in this reality that I know Jesus was resurrected. This adoption was God’s idea, God’s path, God’s promise. All God. A dead God cannot do what He has done these past 5 years in our hearts and family. On our own, we would not have followed this path. But what a beautiful, redemptive path it has been.

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Last week we finally received Jac0b’s new birth certificate. We applied for and received his new social security card. If you look at both, it is as if the old Jac0b did not exist. He is now, and forever more, a Bennett. And yet, his past is still there. We can’t forget it or don’t want to. We honor the path he walked. It is because of that path that we more wholeheartedly celebrate and embrace ourselves as a new family. I look at him in our picture and see a little boy that was rescued from an uncertain future. He may have felt forgotten at times, but God was very busy at work to place Him into our family.

In the same way, I understand our adoption as children in Christ more this Easter. We have a past and it has gotten us where we are, but now we are part of a new family. We have a new identity. Because of His death and resurrection, our names are written in a book of Life that says we are His. We can embrace our past, but also fully live in the freedom of our present because of our salvation from that past. We can rest because he has redeemed and adopted us.

At times it may feel like He has forgotten us, but He has not. He is working all things together. We just can’t see it yet.

I look at our picture from last year and ask myself if I would rather have skipped all the hard parts and go back to where we were. Without hesitation, I would do this a thousand times over. This Easter, I believe God more, I understand my identity in Christ more and because of God’s resurrected son, I love a son that I never knew I’d have. And man, he’s pretty adorable, isn’t he?

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Launch Week Wrap-Up

daffodils

 

So we did it, guys! We launched Feathers!

Aside from iTunes being behind the ball a bit, there were ZERO issues. No major broken links, download problems or confusion.  I really thought I might be dealing with issues all week, but truthfully, it’s been one of the quietest weeks I’ve had in some time.

And here’s the best news: you guys are listening! I see the download numbers and I hear your feedback and you’re listening! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I hope it’s been a blessing for you as you’ve listened and I hope you’ve subscribed so you can keep listening.

Here are a few comments I’ve gotten:

“I so completely enjoyed the podcast!! I cannot wait until next week, it was excellent! Thank you for pursuing and sharing!!!!”

“Oh @bennettaj what a wonderful encouragement Episode 000 is. I can’t wait to listen to more and more.”

“It was awesome. I liked the conversational style.”

I’m not sharing to toot my horn, but to say, other people like it and I think you will too!

So I have a few more things to tell you because I want to be super clear.

The podcast IS in iTunes

Although it wasn’t there first thing Tuesday, you can now search iTunes either on your desktop or on the Podcast app on your Apple device for “Feathers” and you can subscribe.  You can also link directly over there.

Let me be really transparent for a minute and tell you iTunes is the preferred way. Why? If enough people start downloading it, rating, and reviewing it there, then it gets bumped up to this New & Noteworthy section where lots and lots more people might see it.

Please rate and review the podcast

If you’ve had a chance to listen to the podcast, please hop over to iTunes and leave a rating and a short review. This will really help!

There are THREE episodes available

Some people have seen episode 000, but didn’t realize there were two more episodes.  You can get my episode here, Jessie’s here and Kathy’s here.

I know that’s A LOT of time to spend. Don’t get too overwhelmed. Start with the quick 25 minutes intro episode and listen in spurts as you watch dishes, travel, do laundry, work out, garden.

I know it’s hard–even my sister and mom admit to not listening yet so if you haven’t, it’s OK! They’ll be there at the exact right time for you.

God has been so present with me this week

Earlier this week I started to go back down that path wanting everyone’s approval about this. I was in the shower and worrying about that pesky New & Noteworthy section in iTunes every podcaster tries to break into. I just felt the Lord whisper to me, “It doesn’t matter. I think you’re new and noteworthy. I am well-pleased.” It brings tears to my eyes thinking of it again. He is so gracious and loving to remind me that He is enough for me.

And then, last night my friend–the same one who brought me a feather from the Sea of Galilee–walked in our house for small group with a bouquet of hand-picked daffodils for me.  If you’ve listened to episode 002 with Kathy, you might remember a throw-away comment I made during the first of the podcast about spring beginning here and I thought daffodils were starting to bloom. It was a vulnerable moment for me because I felt, and maybe sounded like, I didn’t really know what I was talking about. I nearly cut it out of the episode completely, but felt like it was truthful–a lot of times I’m not sure of myself and don’t know what I’m talking about.

So, when I saw these flowers, I just really felt that through my friend’s kindness, the Lord was telling me that He’d listened and He’d heard and He’d seen me. Even in my weakest moments of this new venture, He still accepts me and loves me.

I mean, what are the chances she would know to do this this week with those exact flowers? She hasn’t even listened to the podcast yet, either.

Our pastor this week preached on John 3:16 and how God’s sacrifice of his son, and the Son’s sacrifice was a demonstration of His love.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

These flowers were another demonstration of His love for me–a wooing once again to Himself. Just like a man courting a woman would bring flowers, He presented them as an invitation to celebrate His work in me together with Him.

And so, as we finish out this launch week, I’m celebrating God’s faithfulness to help me bring this podcast to fruition, I’m celebrating your support to listen and I’m celebrating God’s love.

 

I’m so passionate for you all to experirence His love like this.  Chase after Him. Believe him. He’s waiting.

Feathers: 5 Days!

Feathers-Increase-Our-Faith

Feathers release is 5 days away. I probably should be scared, but I’m not.  I take that back, I shouldn’t be scared because the Lord is with me, but a version of Amy would have been scared. But, let me tell you, I have seen the Lord. I feel truly like I am standing on holy ground. God is so faithful, guys.  Just so faithful.

Every single step of this I have been so clueless and so inept and yet, every time I brought my weakness to Him, He has guided me. I’m not saying this podcast is perfect and I don’t look like an idiot sometimes and the sound is perfect, but God is in it.

Let me give you a glimpse into just a few things that really feel like God-things to me right now.

First, the release date.  It took me forever to even get a release date. I was waiting for it to be perfect and I think I said it in my last post, but I just got to the point where I just needed to be obedient and release it.  I felt peace about March 10th, but I didn’t pick it strategically. I just felt like I could get it done by then. It just happens that it’s the month we are celebrating 7 months with Jacob home. If you need to know that significance, you need to read this post.  Also, the date is on 3/10. 10-3=7.  Yeah, I don’t consider those accidents.

Second, the choice of the first two episodes. I interviewed several guests and then really struggled on what order to release them. Some of them have similar tones or topics and I wanted to stretech it out. God kept leading me to two interviews and just today I began to see the significance. Their stories are tied together, not literally, but in their topics. Both stories include foreclosures of homes and between the two stories, God’s people are led and taken care of by His hand. You’ll see more of what I mean next week, but suffice it to say God is being clear that He can handle it all. We can trust Him with whatever he is leading us through.

Third, the Lord led me back to my journal to see when I began to think about podcasting. On December 10th I wrote, “So drawn to pdocasting, but about what and with whom? What could I talk about forever?” Y’all, I was so clueless what this would look like and He was so faithful to lead me through. And yes, I could talk about these God stories forever.

Fourth, it’s exactly 3 months from December 10th to March 10th. The 3 isn’t particularly significant that I can think of right now, but I love that it’s the same date.

And finally, the December 10th date is signifciant for me.  I have felt for a long time that our adoption and in extension of that, our feather story and this podcast, is a redemption story in response to my emotional affair. December 10th just happens to be the date many years ago when things began to go all wrong. This is personal for me because back then I would say, “I feel like I could talk to you forever.” It’s hard to admit and I don’t like it, but God is so faithful and He’s redeeming those words.  He has put a new story in my mouth and I will talk about HIM, the one true lover of my soul, forever.

He’s so good. He’s so good.

I don’t know what else to do, but just invite you into the stories. To invite you to know our God better.  He just wants to be with you and love you and these stories will help you know him better.

My prayer right now is simply that He increases our faith. Whatever point we are in our journey with Him that He would just scoot us one step closer to Him and that we would trust Him and say yes no matter how he’s leading us.

I hope you’ll meet Him there.

5 days.